Calculator Stories

Posted by khalling 7 years, 11 months ago to Culture
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ok, I have one for ya... an engineering friend was on his way to work. In the middle of the road, he noticed a calculator case. typical TI scientific calculator size (mid 80s). He stops, picks it up. Hoping to find a calculator. Instead it is perfectly stuffed with 10k in small bills. He sweats all day at work and comes home to an engineer and a working waitress english major. the bills are pulled and and counted. the word "shit" is flown around like no one has ever heard.....I am not telling the rest of the story. but...what's your calculator story?


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  • Posted by iroseland 7 years, 11 months ago
    I had a first gen ti-82 that we were required to have by the math department.. I was in computer engineering.. So, like most of my actual classmates I saw the math credits as a thing to be endured. It didn't take long to get decent at programming the 82. So, I programmed it to handle a pile of common problems. This was like hitting the turbo button on my finals. I was done way ahead of everyone, and walked it up front to get the grade on the spot. The TA graded me, then followed me out into the hall to ask some questions. First he was mystified by how fast I got through the exam and was annoyed by how little work I was showing.. So, I explained that I had my calculator programmed to handle the annoying stuff. He then suggested that it was not fair that I had programs doing the work... At which point I informed him that forcing a CE guy to buy a programmable calculator and then not expect it to be programmed was in fact crazy talk.
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    • Posted by BambiB 7 years, 11 months ago
      Given that the purpose of the test is to gauge mastery of course material, the problem with programmable calculators is two-fold.

      The first, major, problem, is that unless the person doing the programming is the one taking the test, they've demonstrated only the ability to run software and no understanding of the course material. So if they put the numbers in and get an answer that is 5 orders of magnitude off, they have no clue what went wrong, nor even that anything IS wrong. Entering numbers into a keyboard doesn't demonstrate a knowledge of the underlying concepts - so the test is invalidated.

      The second argument is that using the programmability essentially amounts to turning the test into a "take home" test. If programming is part of the skill set, then no problem. If not, it amounts to an artificial advantage for those who may have knowledge unrelated to the course material. In effect, if you spent two hours programming your calculator, and everyone gets one hour to take the test, your pre-programming means you have a sizable time advantage.

      In general, I believe that learning to do something "by hand" before permitting calculators (or hand computers) is the way to go. That way, when your calculations show that you need 5 million feet of lumber to build a set of shelves, you at least have a clue something might be wrong.
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    • Posted by XenokRoy 7 years, 11 months ago
      The sad thing is that I would bet you are the oddity even in the CE programs. Most fail to program the calculator and go through the motions the slow and rather inefficient way.
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  • Posted by dbhalling 7 years, 11 months ago
    My HP 45 or something recently gave out. I learned to love RPN in engineering school (by grad school numbers were irrelevant). I have bought a couple of HP calculators since then assuming they were RPN and been disappointed.

    But "she who must not be named" K, wants me to tell the story of how a crow tried to steal my HP45?? calculator one summer on the way home from taking circuit theory I. I was walking down the beautiful tree lined streets of Manhattan KS (Home of the K-state Wildcats) deep in thought about Kirchhoff's Laws when a crow jumps in front of me maybe 15 feet and caws at me. I think it is just a stupid bird so I keep walking, but the crow becomes belligerent, not will to give its ground and flies at me. I turn my head and duck and my (relatively new) HP calculator falls on the cement sidewalk as I back away. I am stunned as the crow lands on the sidewalk and picks up the calculator by a loop in the case and tries to fly away. I can't afford to lose my calculator so I run at the bird waving my hands and shouting. The crow got the calculator 3-4 feet off the ground before I startled it. I picked up the calculator happy to find it still worked and determined to defend it from all birds, bitches, or other vermin.
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    • Posted by $ Susanne 7 years, 11 months ago
      Point for RPN - my desk calculator runs RPN, and its fun watching someone who doesn't know try to use it.

      Then again, it's a sign of the times when you're the only person in your office who has a desk calculator...
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      • Posted by Hiraghm 7 years, 11 months ago
        Those big old calculators my dad sold were RPN... iirc. You had to enter the first and second number, then the operation (like, "4" "5" "+").

        He had a heckuva time adjusting to use my pocket calculator :)
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  • Posted by $ AJAshinoff 7 years, 11 months ago
    True story:

    In 11th grade, many year ago, I had an instructor who conducted a class experiment. Half of the class was given calculators to work with and the rest was left to do the algebra on paper by hand ( I was without). Every single person without a calculator finished the 25 problems well before those who used calculators.

    Not quite the caliber story as they rest of you but it was an opportunity to share a memory that stuck with me all these years.
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    • Posted by teri-amborn 7 years, 11 months ago
      ...but at least you have a portable calculator called your brain.
      Today, children graduating college (let alone high school) can't do simple addition/subtraction in their heads.
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      • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years, 11 months ago
        They're taught not to. My daughter just graduated with a teaching degree (HS math) and that's what they teach now, not to do math problems in your head, not to do simple multiplication by the carry method, no long division. It's all sticks and bundle multiples and other nonsense.
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        • Posted by $ Susanne 7 years, 11 months ago
          It reminds me of the nonsense they were headed toward as I was getting out of school - it's irrelevant if they get the correct answer or not, as long as they *try*.

          I always wondered what the Apollo 11 (or 13) astronauts would have done had that been the norm then. Well, we got the engineering wrong, you'll miss the moon (or earth) by a few thousand miles, and run out of air 2 days before your projected landing rather than have a 72 hour reserve, but you should be proud to know that, while our answers were wrong, we tried. Really really hard.
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        • Posted by $ Snezzy 7 years, 11 months ago
          Holy Crumoly. When coaching kids who tell me they want to be veterinarians, the first thing I ask them is, "What's 6x9?" If they can't get it instantly, I figure there's no hope for them getting into vet school, so I tell them to prepare for some other career, "just in case" they don't make vet school.

          Some of them, failing the 6x9, will say, "I'll use a calculator." I say, "Not for MY horse you won't!"

          If you calculate the horse to get 30 ml of reserpine when 3 ml is required, the incorrect dose may kill the horse. There is no antidote.

          I want my horse's vet to have a good sense of the numbers in dosing meds, and that means relying on the brain in addition to calculators or computers.

          I'm awfully tempted to start a "remedial math for geniuses" class. We'll learn casting out nines, hand-calculation of square roots, calculating areas of fields by walking "Roman paces" to gather distances. There is so much one can learn, and I know such a small amount!
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          • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years, 11 months ago
            As if vet school wasn't restricted enough already?
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            • Posted by $ Snezzy 7 years, 11 months ago
              Restrictive? I'm willing to spend ten minutes coaching a youngster on how to apply to vet school, but I'm not going to waste my effort on losers. My 6x9 quiz identifies those who are far enough along in mathematics that they'll be able to handle calculus by 11th grade or earlier. I'm restricting nothing. Instead I'm offering (to borrow a phrase from horsemanship) a leg up, when possible. It's not available to those who think the horse is too tall.
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              • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years, 11 months ago
                Yet the vet schools allow a very limited amount of students so as to ensure that there aren't "too many" in the profession that they provide too much competition to the existing vets.
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                • Posted by johnpe1 7 years, 11 months ago
                  my first wife found that, despite her extraordinary
                  grades in her vet school prep curriculum, she was
                  unqualified because she didn't have round heels. -- j

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                  • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years, 11 months ago
                    I hope that's not the case anymore as my daughter has a friend that's just now applying to get into a Vet program. It's amazing how some guys use their positions of power to take advantage (and how some gals use what they've got to wrangle advantage, too).
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                    • Posted by johnpe1 7 years, 11 months ago
                      Rob, this was ~34 years ago, as a new vet school
                      was just getting started. I have no recent data, but
                      the memory of her honest appraisal is still fresh. -- j

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  • Posted by $ rockymountainpirate 7 years, 11 months ago
    I don't have a great story, but I had a TI something or other that cost a fortune and had chips you changed for whatever you wanted. All of us geology majors used one in the detested statistics class. I lost track of that somewhere along the line, but I'm sure it's living happily ever after with my brunton compass.
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    • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years, 11 months ago
      Hey, no disparaging remarks about statistics. They are your friend.
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      • Posted by $ Thoritsu 7 years, 11 months ago
        My advisor in graduate school made me read two books: Strunk and White - the Elements of Style, and "Lying with Statistics". It is so easy to mislead people with statistics, but agree, they are absolutely necessary for problems too difficult for analytical solutions.
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        • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years, 11 months ago
          Not sure "The Elements of Style" is a book that I'd want to read. I have one as a reference, but having to actually read it, that would be torture.
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          • Posted by $ Snezzy 7 years, 11 months ago
            Rule 13. Omit needless words.
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            • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years, 11 months ago
              But then how would I have ever met the word requirements for my English Lit papers?
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              • Posted by $ Snezzy 7 years, 11 months ago
                Were you to read the accompanying text for Rule 13 you would find Will Strunk's suggestions. "... not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell." E. B. White said that Strunk found that he had omitted so many needless words that he had time to spare in his lectures. "Omit needless words; omit needless words; omit needless words," he would whisper.
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        • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years, 11 months ago
          Yes. Lying with Statistics is a must read - albeit quite dated now. You need to know what statistics mean otherwise you'll have others pulling the wool over your eyes and you'll never even know it. Like the difference between median and mean. I happen to live just north of where some pro basketball players live. Their astronomical pay skews the mean household income, but does next to nothing when looking at the median. When the politicians want to raise taxes, they use the mean and say of course we can "afford" to "contribute" more to the common good. But when they are looking to portray the community as "middle class" they use the median household income. Both are correct, but present a very different picture. Unless you know the differences, and how to ask questions to get the "real story" you'll be hoodwinked by those who do know how to use statistics to their advantage.
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          • Posted by $ Snezzy 7 years, 11 months ago
            Knowing a bit of statistics can be extremely helpful if you are having to sort out ORIGINAL data that may or may not have been faked. The key is in distribution of digits. It's a bit more complicated than this example, but if you ask someone to produce "random" numbers he'll more than likely favor odd numbers over even numbers. The "data" he's provided is predominated with odd numbers? He faked it!

            Of course if all you see is the "results" and are stonewalled when you ask to see the original [climate] data, unadjusted, you have a different variety of fake data.

            There are other techniques I won't reveal here.
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            • Posted by XenokRoy 7 years, 11 months ago
              The odd and even numbers check only works if the person faking it is too dumb to check it himself/herself and fake the numbers to cover it up.

              Detecting fake data requires that the person who made it missed fixing the data or did not know what should be fixed to make it have a real appearance. Global Warming Science has this practice down to an art form, or at least it seems so. If not for email fubar we may have never known just how rigged that data was.
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              • Posted by $ Snezzy 7 years, 11 months ago
                They show you a graph or they show averages (or averages of averages) or they show "adjusted" data. They also do not provide their algorithms for adjustment.
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          • Posted by $ Thoritsu 7 years, 11 months ago
            Dated now, just like me. All so true!

            WRT actually reading. I overstated, perhaps could say I looked at every page.

            I have become a fan of correlation analyses to identify our businesses (my group manages nine) financial methods that are different. Try to find the "fat" overhead in a company that is playing "hide the pea" sometime. It is a lot harder than you think, but sum all the overheads, divide by revenue, and correlate several businesses, and voila, lazy-chubby pops right out like superheterodyne pulling noise out of the floor.
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  • Posted by richrobinson 7 years, 11 months ago
    This is dumb but when I was in college I wanted a really good calculator. I didn't have a lot of money so I saved up and bought the best available calculator. I didn't realize that it had a print function. Every time I turned it on it made a noise. Every test I had in college math I was known as the buzz guy. It would be quiet as could be and you would hear my calculator turn on. To save energy it turned itself off so when I needed it the whole class would hear bzzzzzzzzz. Dumb but I still remember it.
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    • Posted by LetsShrug 7 years, 11 months ago
      Me and my son are reading these at 2am and cracking up!!!
      Here's mine.
      Last week my son stopped by. He walked in the front door holding a calculator pinched between his thumb and pointer finger, and said "is somebody trying to melt this thing?" It was my husband's calculator. He said "oh shit. I forgot I put that out there." It's a solar calculator that wasn't working, or so I'm assuming anyway. We live in AZ ... And it's July. The birds didn't bother it.
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  • Posted by Frediano 7 years, 11 months ago
    In 70s, HP and TI reps used to go at it face to face at department stores. The HP rep would do some calc on an HP-35 of HP-45; the TI rep would repeat it on the TI-58 ot TI-59. The HP rep would do another calc; the TI rep would repeat it. Finally, the HP rep would do some calc and deliberately drop the calculator on the floor. Game over. I still have HP-15c on my desk.
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    • Posted by Frediano 7 years, 11 months ago
      My HP15c is actually a recent replacement-- the 'Limited Edition' re-issue. My original HP15c was the only thing stolen out of my bag at the airport in Dhaka (Zia) on a trip back from Bangladesh in 1998. Might be a poor nation, but they knew what was worth stealing.
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      • Posted by Frediano 7 years, 11 months ago
        I just checked. I paid $199 in 2011 to replace HP15C with re-issue, NIB with manual, on Amazon. Today, price is $499. At 4oz, that is $125/oz(sorry, did that in my head). Silver is trading around $21/oz.
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  • Posted by Snoogoo 7 years, 11 months ago
    My dad always used to tell me that my graphing calculator I used for calculus had more memory and processing power in it than the computers we used to send men to the moon. Not that I made excuses before for not being able to do things, but I definitely would never make an excuse after that.
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    • Posted by Frediano 7 years, 11 months ago
      The Apollo computers still had wired cores. The work at Fairchild in the late 60s that eventually showed up at Intel as the 4004 didn't quite make it into Apollo, though miniaturization of electronics for flight was certainly an impetus for that..
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  • Posted by NealS 7 years, 11 months ago
    All I remember in the 70's is having to spend about $89 to buy a Corvus 411 calculator that ran for a few days on four AA Cells or you could just plug it in. It had 8 digits precision and algebraic logic, 8 functions, 24 keys and an LED display. What's astounding is, I just opened the junk drawer in my desk and I still have it. The power supply wire is epoxied into the calculator. I just mentioned that so I could tell you I'm really interested in the rest of your story about the 10K.

    Anyone know where I can get a couple of new metal curser frames for my K&E 4081-3 Log Log Duplex Decitrig Slide Rule for a reasonable price? They seem to have dissolved, or oxidized away.
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  • Posted by lagerquist 7 years, 11 months ago
    RPN rules!

    Aren't there any old guys out there? (What girl would admit to being old)?

    The pinnacle of calculator-dom is the HP-41C (Continuous memory, programmable). Accessries include a magnetic card reader and pre-programmed plug-in modules). HP-41s are INDESTRUCTIBLE, almost. The display on mine is turning black at the ends but it should last a few more decades.

    RPN (Reverse Polish Notation!).
    Enter a number and it automatically clears the registers. Enter another number, THEN select what you want to do with it (Add, subtract, multiply, divide, square, raise to a power and so on). Parentheses aren't needed, just keep on truckin'. The interim result is always shown until finally, you're all done.

    Scads of storage registers can save anything you like, such as a list of cars and the MPG each delivers.

    My HP-41 is not for sale. Where can I get a good deal on a spare?
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    • Posted by CircuitGuy 7 years, 11 months ago
      The notion of a stack with the operation done on the item(s) at the top of the stack is more intuitive than a standard calculator where you enter the operation after entering the value only if the operation has one argument, e.g. sqrt.
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  • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years, 11 months ago
    Not my story -- When Laurel and I were talking civil engineering classes at New Mexico State (1978-1979), the ASCE student trophy case had Bob Brittan's sliderule. He finished four years with a perfect four-point. The slip stick was worn and beaten. In fact, I think that the first part of the CD was torn off at the far left. We were looking at it in wonder and someone else asked how you could use it. One professor pointed out that you just work the problem a different way, but another professor said that you don't need a calculator to get through his courses. The light went on! I never had his classes, but I saw some tests: You do the algebra or trig or maybe calculus, and the numerical answer is easy. (See Ashinoff here on the 25 kids who used algebra without a calculator.)

    BTW, I have sliderules. In fact, some years back, Keuffel and Esser advertised in an engineering magazine (Industrial Research maybe) that they had a crate in a warehouse. Send them an SASE or something and get a free slide rule. Since then, I picked up a couple at second-hand stores. I have a nice one in a leather case for your belt. I wear it at science fiction conventions and such. "It is the formal computing device of a Jedi physicist, an elegant tool from a simpler time, from before the dark times and the empire."

    About 1982 or so, in response to the creation of a computer science department at our community college, my physics instructor said, "We had sliderules, but no one majored in them."


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  • Posted by $ MikeMarotta 7 years, 11 months ago
    I have mentioned before that although my freshman year was 1967, I went back and completed my degrees 2005-2010. I had credit for a semester of calculus, but not algebra. I took the class without a book and without a calculator and got an A. On one test, I had to settle for partial credit for one problem. We had a linear regression with ten points and I only finished three by hand.

    My saving grace was Cleveland Public Schools. I had ten semesters of math in four years (counting summer school). I was actually in Calculus One when I got kicked out as a discipline problem and went to another school. I could not get into their calculus class, so I took another semester of "senior math", with probability and stuff.

    My wife and I both can outrace the cashier. Again in CPS, in junior high, for three semesters, we had six weeks of "mental math" learning to estimate, borrow, carry, etc., in our heads. I picked up a few more tricks from Feynman's stories. Also, oddly enough, it was computer programming that put the icing on the cake. It was an easy lesson that you can guess almost anything by taking half the correction three times.

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  • Posted by $ Thoritsu 7 years, 11 months ago
    While in undergraduate Mech Eng, my small class drew a terrible Polish professor for Machine Design who was killing us by just reading the book in class. We all loved another fantastic professor who would start a class talking hot rods, and 30 min later you realized that had become the lecture. One evening at ~2am, we couldn't take it anymore, so we made an effigy from a T-square and old TI-calculator rewired to flash in a demonic manner with its circuit boards all broken in a technical disembowelment. We broke in to the professors office row, and left it with a note appealing to him to use his god-like powers to save us.
    For what it is worth, that Polish guy was later let go, thank goodness.
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  • Posted by $ Technocracy 7 years, 11 months ago
    Who other than I remember calculators with Nixie tubes?
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    • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years, 11 months ago
      Nope. LED's yes. I went from using a slip-stick in HS to an HP15C in college (it was issued, so I didn't have any choice - ended up loving it). I had a TI watch with LED's.
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      • Posted by $ Susanne 7 years, 11 months ago
        I **loved** the red LED displays... nothing cooler. Until the display inexplicitly died - and they always did, usually right in the middle of running calculations or somesuch.

        Know what I remember better, tho? The watches (IIRC mine were usually Timexes) that had the same red LEDs in it - moonlighted during High School, and working at night they always just *worked*. They ate batteries like no ones business, tho - I got *very* adept at popping the back cover and sliding a new mercury cell in its place.

        When the last one finally died I went through holy heck to find another. Never could... tho recently I saw one in an antique store. Felt really old then.
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      • Posted by $ Technocracy 7 years, 11 months ago
        Electro luminescent slipped in there for a short time too. However the power savings for LCD and the extended battery life it granted caused that technology to more or less own the market
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    • Posted by $ Susanne 7 years, 11 months ago
      I had a frequency counter that used Nixie Tubes (ancient but accurate)... one burned out (they do that eventually) and I had a dickens of a time finding a replacement - ended up having to rewire the base socket to the tube.

      Oh... er... that was a MUCH OLDER friend who that happened to... I couldn't be that old... no way, no how...
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    • Posted by $ Thoritsu 7 years, 11 months ago
      I know what a nixie tube is, but must admit, I have not seen a calculator using them. There are some cool kits to make clocks from them. Russia still makes the tubes.
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    • Posted by Hiraghm 7 years, 11 months ago
      Who here still has a slide rule? :)
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      • Posted by Frediano 7 years, 11 months ago
        Linear or circular? Yes to both.
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        • Posted by $ Susanne 7 years, 11 months ago
          I have a circular one, ancient at that, that calculates volumes of different paving materials & component percentages, does weight conversions, temps, cooling rate ratios to ambient temps and RH's, volumetric compaction calculations... limited application, but if you were engineering a highway, what a cool beast! I think it came out of the 40's or 50's, amazing piece of work for its day. I found it in an abandoned wooden desk (under the drawer) early in my 7 to 630 job, and hope to pass it on to someone who will appreciate (and use) it when I finally go to work for myself full-time!
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      • Posted by $ Technocracy 7 years, 11 months ago
        I do. My father still has his ivory one, mine is plastic :(
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        • Posted by $ Susanne 7 years, 11 months ago
          My old K+E that I still have (and use) is wooden core plastic. Lost the cursor (didn't have the cool metal ends to keep that from happening) and searched for months in 2nd hand stores, antique shops, and junk shops until I found one that fit. Came with a green belt case (woohoo) - I used to get purses with an outside pocket to keep it in, at the ready, "just in case"... --giggles--

          Know what I remember from high school? Algebra teacher telling us "Sure, calculators are nifty (does anyone still use "nifty"??!!) but your slide role won't run out of batteries at the worst possible time". Never forgot it.

          Of course, I envied the magnifying cursor on my friends, oh, what was that ugly yellow thing... Way fun (and easy) to use, but gads, how I hated that yellow color! Ick!!! I think it was a Pickett... Bleah.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 7 years, 11 months ago
    I got my first calculator for the winter holidays when I was 6 years old. It was a Sharp, with an LCD display, not an LED display that required more power than you could get from for long from a pair of AAs. The keys were rubbery. The keypad was shrouded in real metal. I still stands out in my mind.

    Now I use an HP33s. When they cancelled the HP32s and replaced with with the HP33s, the price of used HP32s shot up. I think I sold it for more than I paid for it and got the new HP33s.

    I have an HP48gx that I never cared for. That tiny bit of latency when you do an operation drives me crazy.
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  • Posted by HuckFinn 7 years, 11 months ago
    I still have my 1981 HP 15C and 6 HP 32SIIs and I use them every day. I keep RPN calculators all over my house, lab and office so I don't have to carry one around, misplace it, or worse yet, drop it. RPN is so logical compared arithmetic entry and Excel is like math designed by Obama. I don't trust any complex formula in Excel, especially trig, until I have verified it on an HP calculator. Trig in three dimensions? I do it on HP unless the calcs are voluminous and it's worth the time & screaming at Bill Gates to set up Excel to do it. Long live RPN!
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    • Posted by $ Technocracy 7 years, 11 months ago
      LOL

      I agree with your attitude on Excel.

      I have to use it all the time, but I don't care for it. Or any of the MS-Office apps for that matter. Unfortunately that is what most of the work world uses. So of course your output has to be readable for that suite or be a pdf.

      MS-Office has always been "adequate" for work but not a single one of the components has ever been best in class. Good enough, but not great.

      I still spot check excel sheet with my HP calc as well. And installed some HP calc emulators on my ipad for nostalgia's sake as well as usability.
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  • Posted by johnpe1 7 years, 11 months ago
    my first calculator was a Bowmar MX100 Scientific
    Brain;; it cost $135 and I had to drive to Memphis
    to buy it. I used it for years, and even carried it
    for a spare to my PE test. 3 slide rules, 3 calculators,
    and spare batteries. a suitcase full of books. pens
    and pencils and scaled rulers and everything but
    a pocket protector.

    the Bowmar was forwarded to a high school kid
    and lasted 10 years.

    today I use an hp 41cx which I bought for my first
    wife when she tried computer science in '82.
    tough machine. it winked out once (N batteries)
    when I was negotiating the purchase of 20 acres
    of land, and the "opposition" brought out a light-
    powered thing which came in a cracker jack box
    to finish up. embarrassed??? -- j

    http://www.computerhistory.org/collectio...
    http://www.amazon.com/HP-41CX/dp/B004BNR...

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  • Posted by Snoogoo 7 years, 11 months ago
    Before smartphones, we used our graphing calculators to learn basic programming. We learned how to program games that we could play to pass the time at school. The games ranged from simple pong or pac man, to a game called drug war, that we had lots of fun customizing to create hilarious situations...
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  • Posted by Maritimus 7 years, 11 months ago
    I am one of those who think that one of the duties of being a father is to teach his kids early to memorize the multiplication table (up to 12 x 12). Both our sons did it quickly and well. Our older son, at age 9, asked me to buy him a calculator. I managed to avoid doing that, fearing that using the calculator would diminish his mental calculation abilities. At about the same time he started distributing the local newspaper to the homes in the neighborhood. As soon as he earned enough, he bought himself a TI calculator. Without a doubt, it greatly increased his interest in mathematics, numbers and calculations, mental or not. Today, he is the VP for strategic planning and initiatives of a huge corporation. I learned.
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    • Posted by Hiraghm 7 years, 11 months ago
      I agree with you about the importance of memorization. Speaking of my father, he used to tell us kids how when *he* was in school they had to spend hours reciting their multiplication tables.

      Yet the guy could multiply two, 3-digit numbers as fast, and in some cases faster, than I could enter them on a calculator...
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  • Posted by rbunce 7 years, 11 months ago
    My first calculator was a Bowmar Brain 4 function. My freshman year in college was the last year that engineering school had a slide rule use class. A couple years later my older brother gave me his nice HP. 20 years later solar powered multi function calculators were free gifts for signing up for just about anything. I think we are on the same trajectory with Android tablets.
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  • Posted by xthinker88 7 years, 11 months ago
    I still use my HP15C from my plebe year 30 years ago. At one point, I lost the cover for the battery compartment. I called an HP support number to see where I could buy one. I told him how long I'd had the calculator and the guy asked for my address and sent me one in a small envelope.

    For decades I thought RPN was just an ethnic joke. Then, I found my old manual for the calculator in an old box of books and, looking through it, found out that it was indeed the name. LOL.
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  • Posted by kathywiso 7 years, 11 months ago
    I don't have my own story, but my contractor told me this. He figured the price of jobs out in his head, so he gets a calculator...what kind..no idea. Anyway, figures this job out and he must have hit a wrong button because the bid was $2500.00 different than the material on the job....so he smashed it with his hammer and still to this day, uses his brain.
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  • Posted by $ Abaco 7 years, 11 months ago
    I'm an HP guy. I own several for my work.

    My favorite story was actually told to me by my roommate at Cal Poly when we were in school there. It was during finals week when my buddy was walking through the 1st floor of the Achitecture building when, suddenly, a door from a classroom flew open near the end of a test (obviously) and a student dashed out. He made a beeline straight for a big trash can where he held out his calculator over the can and, gripping it at each end with his hands, he twisted it into a thousand pieces - explosively. I think he even yelled out, "Yeaahhh!!!" in anger while doing it.

    I'll never forget that story.

    I have my old 15c from college, one of the original 48 from my early engineering days, a couple 33s (for the P.E. exam) and now a 12c for my financial calcs. Great calculators. The old ones never die.
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    • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years, 11 months ago
      I need to preface this with the fact that I went to "college" at an institution where even the most liberal of arts majors has to take more engineering courses than most regular college engineering students. So, it was not uncommon that after the final engineering exam those less engineering inclined would go back to their rooms and hurl their HP 15C's out the window. It was common to line up for morning formation and see the carnage from several former calculators strewn about.
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      • Posted by $ Technocracy 7 years, 11 months ago
        Annapolis? AF Academy?
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        • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years, 11 months ago
          That hurts. Hudson High.
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          • Posted by $ Technocracy 7 years, 11 months ago
            Sorry, no offense was meant.

            As a former Marine I think Annapolis and one of my best friends went to AF academy.

            Figured the "College" in quotes and the engineering emphasis meant a service academy.

            Of course had I put up Hudson High you would have been more offended :)
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            • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years, 11 months ago
              None taken. Best experience I'd not want to repeat.

              I also call it South Hudson Institute of Technology (Good ol' SHIT). It was a great school to be a grad from - emphasis on FROM. But that's part of the point. Over 4 yrs we lost 32%, far more than the fly-boys or squids.

              I actually tried to get into AFA but with hay fever, couldn't pass the flight physical. I went to their SERE school during one summer training and have a family friend's daughter who just graduated this past May. Glad that I didn't get in. I much prefer Hudson High - more tradition, history, discipline, and even architecture.
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              • Posted by $ Technocracy 7 years, 11 months ago
                More tradition indeed.

                AF didn't exist until the key west accords.
                At that point they became independent and had to start their own traditions. All the Army traditions became part of the "competition". And therefore, never to be mentioned LOL
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  • Posted by $ Thoritsu 7 years, 11 months ago
    When I graduated and went to grad school, my fiance got me an HP28. I turned my nose up to RPN until then. After using it for a month, became a convert, and never looked back.
    BTW, this calculator will do symbolic differentiation and integration as well as matrix math. In graduate digital controls class I flew though problems by pushing "x^-1", rather than doing the long-hand adjoint/determinant. Great calculator for 1987!
    About 3yrs ago, I stopped carrying my HP48G (which was a waste on a management-puke like me anyway), and just use a nice RPN app on my iPhone and iPad!
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    • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years, 11 months ago
      Whomever at HP made the decision to use RPN for their engineering calculators was a genius. I too thought it was stupid for the first week I had it, and then fell in love with that method. So much more intuitive than "standard" calculators. I remember the first time that I handed my 15C to my son when he needed a calculator. His first question was "where's the equals sign?" Once I explained to him how it worked, he was right on it. I'm guessing he was 7 or 8 at the time. He hated it when we had to get him a TI calc because that was what was spec'd for HS.
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      • Posted by $ Thoritsu 7 years, 11 months ago
        I am also irritated by this TI programmable calculator bias/requirement my son had. First I don't see the need for programmable calculators in high school classes. It is an unnecessary skill, and the calculator-specific semantics of it will be 1) obsolete and 2) forgotten in two years.
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      • Posted by 7 years, 11 months ago
        yea, what's up with that? as long as you know how to use it...seems a little monopolistic to me
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        • Posted by Robbie53024 7 years, 11 months ago
          Makes the lives of the teacher easier. That way, when they're doing some group exercises in class, everyone can punch the same buttons in the same order and hopefully get the same answer. Otherwise, the teacher has to know the idiosyncrasies of all the various calc vendors.
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          • Posted by $ Susanne 7 years, 11 months ago
            Or worse, the teacher (who was likely trained from a TI book) would go over to a kid who had an HP and try to show the student how to do the problem, and then look bad when they couldn't use it.

            Of course, that would be expecting the teacher to be somewhat expert in knowing the subject - or have enough common sense to figure it out.
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